Reinventing Myself in Richmond, Virginia

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Richmond – Week Three Report

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In this posting I do not mean that staying in one place and building your life where you are is unimportant. It is key to a meaningful life. I am simply describing the experience I am currently engaged in as how it relates to my own journey. Eventually I’ll tie all these writing together in to a book and will be able to expand and clarify in many directions then. For now, just little pieces of the pie at a time. Thanks for reading!

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In his book, The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell writes, “Most of us seem to have a consistent character because most of us are really good at controlling our environments most of the time.” And not just controlling our environments but also keeping our environments familiar. It’s perhaps part of the reason people like hotel chains, they are predictable, we know what to expect. He goes on to explain how we tend to put ourselves in repeated social situations where we shine and where people know us mostly from those situations. Put us somewhere very different, and we will probably seem like different people. Think about it. If you corner a very friendly dog, they might bite. Even if they’ve never bitten before. New scenarios call forth new behaviours.

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He explains a study where divinity students are put in situations to test their characters. It would seem, from some specific study he reviewed, that someone who has dedicated their life to helping others, someone who would usually be described as being especially compassionate can be reduced to indifference to the suffering of others even with three very uncharged words. “You’re running late.” That was enough for the candidates to have no time to help others, to step over and possibly even see someone in distress as an annoyance impeding their way. How important was what they were late for? Only typically important, someone was waiting for their late arrival. Not life or death. For more specific info., read the tipping point. Gladwell is one of my favourite authors and I will probably often quote him in my blog. As I have mentioned before, he is a fellow Canadian outsider.

The point is, the person who we see ourselves as being, that person is not fixed in all environments. We like to think that our character is fixed, but the truth is not that simple. We act and react differently in different environments, to different and unique situations, in the presence of different people. Adapting to our surroundings is part of survival, it’s natural. If this trait had not evolved I doubt I’d be sitting in my temporary apartment in Richmond, Virginia writing this now. And you wouldn’t be reading this either.

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I have always noted that personal growth spurts often come from transition, from change. When I moved from Fredericton, New Brunswick, to London, England I wrote home to my family that I felt, “Like a plant that’s been repotted in new soil.” (Or did I write, “flower”, I’m not sure.) My entirely new environment promoted growth; I was more easily able to change as a person. Without the familiar around me I was better able to move towards becoming who I wanted to become, without the expectations of anyone around me of who I already was. People come to know us as a certain way, and their expectation of who we are has a tendency to keep us there too. It’s like we have agreements together and it’s really hard to break those agreements.

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I think there is a certain core of your person that family and certain friends who come to feel like family can grasp, and that changes in who you are can flex around that. Most of us have had the experience of outgrowing someone, either we changed and they didn’t or we both changed in different ways or they wanted you to stay the same and stagnate when you needed to embrace growth. “You’ve changed.” Of course I have. We are always changing. The people we meet and the experiences we have shape our ever-changing lives. Even beyond movement within personality types, which tend to have one set of characteristics when someone is emotionally healthy and quite a different set when emotionally unwell. Even without great change, one’s state of mind can alter who one seems to be considerably. I am quite a different person when I am feeling loving than I am when I am feeling anxious. I am still the same person, but I don’t seem like the same person. Not even to myself. I think I’ve only lost friends during the latter state although I’ve chosen to weed some people out of my life during the former state too. In respect for myself. I’ve made some mistakes when feeling anxious, and probably some good choices when feeling loving.

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In my third week in Virginia that is what I have most to report. This trip, it’s not mostly about the travel. It’s not mostly about writing. It’s about growing as a person. I am going out-of-my-way to put myself into unfamiliar environments. My writing this month might be completely useless in the long term, but the experiences I am having will have an imprint on my writing for the rest of my life as I continue to grow into the person I am destined to become. As we all continually change throughout our lives. I feel incredibly grateful for the opportunities to experience hurt and pain, love and joy, as I find my way through the world.

During week three I went to a social event where, for the first time in Richmond, I was in a diverse crowd. Richmond has it’s diversity, there are black people and white people, gay people and straight people. But until Wednesday evening of week three, I had only conversed with one person outside of these confines of diversity. A nice gentleman from Libya, a really interesting entrepreneur. Wednesday I attended a wine-tasting event and met people from India, China, Vietnam, Germany, Denmark, and the Netherlands. I also met people from several different states as well as locals as this was a mingler for people who are new in town.

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I felt connection with people when they said they were from Bombay, and I could relate with my three weeks in Mumbai. I could picture the life they came from before finding themselves working in America’s IT industry. I’ve not been to Chennai, but when someone said they were from that city I at least had notions as to what that meant too. Of course you can feel connection with others without having visited their homeland, but I think it is like a boost. It’s like dog owners befriending other dog owners at the dog park. It is still possible to make friends with a dog owner even if you’re not one yourself, but it is undeniable that for most people having that little commonness provides an opening. As a writer, I will be better able to connect with readers the more I understand about them. I am sure that my current readers know that I have a great desire to reach out and connect. And that my writing has evolved in a short time from being mostly about sight-seeing to being mostly about life. Real life was always my main interest, and meeting people always the priority over seeing things. Incorporating real-life into my travels is something I am learning how to do. Often clumsily. And often with failure. (And here I mean that it doesn’t always go as planned, not true failure. To me, true failure only comes from not trying.)

My experience in Richmond has been enriching. As an outsider, I have witnessed a separation here. I have been kept at arms-length by some, embraced by others. I have heard stories of success and of progress and of change. I have come to understand that my own culture, that of inner-Toronto which is different than Greater Toronto, is probably more similar to that of Manhattan than most anywhere. I think that most people don’t see that connection at all.

Many American cities seem to be moving in a very positive direction. City centres have changed a lot in the past decade, they are moving towards having thriving city centres and away from having ghettos and dead zones. “You should have seen it ten years ago, it wasn’t safe,” is something I have heard now in LA, parts of NYC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, even Richmond. The era when everyone who could afford to moved to the suburbs is definitely over. I never understood that myself, why would anyone want to live on a street that only has a bunch of houses and where you always need to use your car to get food? How could that ever be someone’s preference? When I can’t walk out my door and already be somewhere, I feel cut-off.

I know it is lots of people’s preference, we all have our own ideas as to what an ideal life looks like. How I and my siblings grew-up in suburban New Brunswick and all developed urban preferences is perhaps unusual. I do think that high-density living is more sustainable and I would argue that it is probably better for most people’s mental health. At least in neighbourhoods where neighbours embrace each other. I found that in London the opposite was true, people kept to themselves and protected their space more, seemingly due to the density. But, I am a different person than I was when I lived in London more than fifteen years ago! Where did the time go! I think I am well-overdue spending some serious time in England’s capital. Again.

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So I am seeing my time in Richmond very differently than I did at the start. It’s like I’m discovering more about myself, at age forty. Who am I in Richmond? And I see it more as contributing to the development of my understanding of the diversity of American culture outside of world-class urban centres. This is a great city and I think I could happily live here. I think it is probably a place where I meet more everyday Americans than I do in places such as NYC and LA and New Orleans which have very unique local cultural environments. I don’t mean this as being good or bad, it’s just that some places are more typical of a general population and others less so.

People may not see me as such, but I am an invisible foreigner here. The influences that contributed to my world view and my place in it are not the same as an Americans. They are perhaps not the same as most Canadians either, but they are more similar.

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Some pretty homes-made-businesses in Uptown Richmond, the area around VCU. (Virginia Commonwealth University)

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Stay tuned for my Final Richmond Report as well as postings from NYC, Philadelphia, Fredericksburg, DC, and more! Thanks for reading and if you enjoy my blog, PLEASE, share it with your friends! Cheers! Darren

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Me showing-off my Canadian hair. When I get another American haircut tomorrow, will I still have Canadian hair, even if most of it grew-in while in the US?

Making Friends in Richmond, Week Two Report

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The Handsome Virginia State Capital in Downtown Richmond. I pass this way three times a week nowadays, walking to my chiropractor. Yes, that is snow you see. I am told this is an unusual winter.

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Richmond Week 2 Report

By the end of week one, I was seeming to discover a barrier between me and mainstream Richmond. I had been finding interesting social activities where I could meet new people every day, but I was not having success of making friends outside of groups. Except when it came to the LGBT community. I was finding this community to be uncommonly accepting and inclusive.

I had made personal contact with several people and I came-out to them. Then they disappeared. Some days later I re-contacted them to ask whether I had offended them by being gay, or if they were just too busy to reply. On Sunday, the first guy I had contacted, fully a week previous, finally replied to let me know that I had not offended him. Clearly not an offer of friendship, but he was clearing-the-air as we were to be attending the same meetup event later in the day.

The girl who had given me her card with an offer to meet from her nearby work, I never heard from again after mentioning being gay. The young man I was to see a matinee with on Wed finally replied to let me know that he simply hadn’t checked email all week. This would seem a good reason not to reply if we had not been planning to attend a film the day after we met and only had email contact with each other. In that case, does he still want to go to a film sometime afterall? Well, I guess he hasn’t checked his email for the past 8 days because he again disappeared. So some Richmonders might not want to make gay friends, but they also don’t want you to necessarily feel rejected. They may not want to know you once you tell them you’re gay, but they don’t want you to feel badly about it. It’s like, they know they are uncomfortable, but they also know that they shouldn’t be. They watch tv, things are changing.

Apart from my chiropractor, who I am now visiting every-other-day, week two presented me with few activities to meet new people. Not because it was a slow week, but because I had already made some friends. Sunday I enjoyed meeting the film group to see Jack Ryan and for BBQ afterwards. It’s a nice, social, friendly group. Monday I met friends for dinner, the male-male couple newly from the mid-west. Really sweet guys. Tuesday events were cancelled due to weather and I found myself on the phone getting to know people and making future plans. Wednesday I met someone for a drink around the corner, the kindly fellow I went out with on Saturday. He’s native to Richmond but has real Southern Charm, which is generally not so notable here, in spades. Thursday I met three black gay guys for dinner and drinks. (Why am I pointing out that they were black and gay when I’d usually just say that I met three guys? Because the gay/straight divide has become a surprising topic of my writing here.) Great guys, the couple who had a tropical wedding and another Richmond newbie. Friday I went to DC with one of them for the weekend, so week 2 in Richmond was cut-short.

I do not think that Richmond is a homophobic city. But I do think it may be a segregated city. Honestly, I have not conducted this natural experiment other places so I cannot provide a good comparison, it just happened here. It seems like there were natural social filters working that after a week I found my place and that was of having only gay friends. This is completely new to me. My usual comfort-zone is of being the token gay guy, which is probably a factor of where and how I grew-up. This might say nothing about the community around me at all, or it might indicate that the gay community is very inclusive because they need to support each other. People accept each other readily when they know what it is to be rejected. Not in a brutal way, but in a kept-at-arms-length sort-of-way. Summarily, based on one trait.

For the rest of week two, stay tuned for my upcoming DC postings: DC International Auto Show and DC House Party.

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This modern sculpture of a police man’s head adorns the station near my sublet.

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My old hobby of going to the chiropractor M-W-F has forced itself into my Richmond routine.

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My Richmond, Virginia life. Experiment. The Beginning.

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I have paused in the friendly and active city of Richmond, Virginia to catch-up on my writing. While I am here you can expect postings from my time in New York City, Rhode Island, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Fredericksburg, and of course, right here. I hope you’ll join me on my adventures! Just click on “follow” and don’t miss a thing! Cheers!

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Writing this in my temporary home in Richmond, Virginia.

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I’m sitting in my apartment on a rainy Tuesday morning in Richmond, Virginia. And I think to myself, this is crazy! In a good way, crazy. Because I live in Toronto. That’s where my bedroom is, that’s where my things are, that’s where some of my family live. My parents live in New Brunswick, but my siblings are in Toronto and there’s no one closer in my life than my siblings. Toronto is where I consider home.

I am in a growth phase of my life. I’m reinventing myself. Again.

When I was twenty-two I left New Brunswick for London, England when I first graduated university and I realised then that my life could completely change in nearly every aspect from one day to the next day. Within the time frame of one week I went from being a student in Fredericton with a population of 45,000 to having a job and a flat-share in one of the worlds greatest cities. (Fredericton is pretty great too though!) I vowed to remember, if ever I hated my life I would know that I could change everything about it. The streets I walk down, the people I interact with, the culture that surrounds me. The whole thing. But then somehow I forgot. I let myself feel trapped longer than I needed to. But perhaps I needed to have the negative experiences I had to make it a clean-break. Maybe my timing was right afterall.

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We can get trapped by our lives as they progress. We get stuck in our mortgage payments, the security of work that we know, we become attached to our nice things. If we are mostly happy in our lives then the attachment is a good thing, it’s healthy. But if we are mostly miserable in our lives then keeping those things are not worth it.

Unfortunately, a certain miserable present is easier to accept than an uncertain future of possibility. It is a human condition to fear change. To fear the unknown. We evolved staying safe. The misery we know can seem more safe than the possibilities we don’t know.

Many of us have children and that brings life-long responsibility. But having a family also gives meaning and purpose to our lives. I see my grand freedom as a consolation. If you are tied to your family then don’t envy my life, you have something that I don’t have. If you have children, there will be ups and downs for sure, but you will always have that special bond that I will never know. I’m not saying that I envy that either though, I know that that experience is not for me.

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My life had to fall apart for me to dump it and to pursue freedom. Even then, it was hard giving-up my home and my work. That choice was not easy and I fought it, the universe kept pushing me away from the life I no longer fit until it just crumbled around me and there was almost nothing left to leave behind. My beautiful home (which you can see on this blog) became my prison, my relationships faltered, anxieties eroded me in my work; I felt like I couldn’t breathe and I was killing myself with food and drink and smoking. My liver was being overworked by the medications I needed to get through the days. Anti-depressants, ADHD meds, and cholesterol meds, none of which I require anymore. I’m not saying people shouldn’t need these medications, everyone is different, I’m just saying that I used to need them myself and now I don’t. Maybe I will in the future, who knows.

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I’ve shown this pic on my blog before, this was the photo taken for my driver’s license in May, 2012. This was right after I dumped my life in Winnipeg when I surrendered my Manitoba license for my Ontario license. I get a lot of attention at borders as unfortunately my passport photo is from a similar time. With self-destructive behaviour I had gained 20 pounds in my last year in Winnipeg. Since this photo I have lost 30 lbs, another 10 and I will be at my ideal weight. Not by dieting but by eating healthfully, making better choices and getting regular exercise. It’s not actually easy, I do ignore cravings and disallow most processed snack foods most of the time even when I want them. When I eat a “bad meal” I make sure to balance it out with some very good meals, like the French do in France. They will enjoy a banquet, but the next day it’s not business as usual, it’s salads and lean protein to balance the difference. It works! I also quit smoking and weaned off the long-term medications I had previously needed. (I do not suggest anyone to go off their medications, I’m just telling you that I no longer needed them.) I feel like my life changed just in time and I am very fortunate. That article is coming-up in the near future, watch for “At Home in Winnipeg”.

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And a photo taken today, 19 months older in Jan, 2014. A lot healthier and happier. It’s not just the weight difference, my whole body and brain is healthier.
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On my current road trip after spending time in Manhattan, Rhode Island, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Fredericksburg I was looking for a place where to linger so as to work on my writing and catch-up on my personal goals before moving on.

I chose Richmond as this place to linger due to a variety of factors:
-It’s a medium-sized city (200,000 city population, 1.2 million Metropolitan population) and therefore has a good variety of things to do and people to meet.
-It is enroute to my next reunion destination near Atlanta.
-It has mild winter weather (comparatively).
-I was able to sublet an apartment in what looked like an interesting urban area with walkable restaurants and coffee shops and near a gym and a library. (I must admit, where I am is rougher than I could have imagined, but it’s fine. I will not take my safety for granted.)
-Richmond has a proliferation of meetup groups through which I can meet locals. If you don’t already know meetup.com, it’s a great website for connecting people to share all manners of interests.

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So here I am on day three of twenty-eight days. My goal here is to create a temporary life. Or to continue my life, but temporarily here. For me this means having meaningful days and hopefully making some meaningful friendships. It is very different than sight-seeing, which by it’s very syntax is looking at the surface. Sure, I want to see some of the more important sights while I am here, but visiting locations and looking at things is rarely my purpose of travel. This is confusing to most people who take week-long vacations either soaking in the sun or filling their minds and photo albums with views of museum contents and historic landmarks. The contents of museums were never my main interest anyway, and that activity for me is unsustainable. I have been mostly travelling since summer, 2012 and I do not have the type of mind that can focus on displays day-after-day because it is not my interest. I don’t try to visit museums all the time in Toronto, but I do try to have meaningful connections with others. The same is true when I travel. I’m not trying to see everything – I am trying to experience everything. I want to know what it feels like to live in Richmond, Virginia. What is it like to be a local here. How does a Virginian see the world and himself in it. Okay, I might not get to understand that last bit, but I do hope to have lots of meaningful conversations with local friends that will at least widen my understanding.

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The view of rain from my window as I write. Can’t complain, it’s probably freezing-cold at home!
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It’s day three. I arrived on Saturday afternoon, half-unpacked, and spent two and a half hours at a local supermarket stocking the kitchen. It took so long because being unfamiliar with the store I had to read a lot of labels and really search to find healthy choices. The “Organics” section seemed to be set-up to push premium health-labelled foods rather than to actually segregate organic choices because when reading the labels more closely, easily 2/3 of the items in that section were not organic. “Natural” is not organic. Don’t be fooled. There is no substitute word for organic. And you will see labels like, “made with organic oats” and then find a whole list of non-organic and possibly even GMO ingredients also in the item, oats might even be a lesser ingredient. The food system is not set-up to keep us well. It’s very tricky. Trying to avoid harmful pesticides and antibiotics and hormones and genetically-modified human experiment foods is difficult and expensive. Not everyone can afford healthy food or has the time to find them and that is wrong. The food system is not set-up to nourish, it is set-up to maximise profits. I know I will be eating-out at least once daily, so I want my at home choices to be the best they can.

Sunday I attended the local Unitarian Universalist Church. I met an interesting friendly woman with whom I should have given my details, I don’t know why I didn’t. I guess I didn’t feel like “coming-out” at that moment. I feel like if I give a woman around my age my number and invite her to call me, I should clarify that I’m a gay guy. Hopefully I will see her next week because she seemed like a friend. I was hoping there might be a regular brunch group after church too that I could join, but I didn’t find such a group. I met her and one man who introduced himself. With him, though, I found myself in an awkward conversation defending Canadians. I did not come here to compare Canada to America, such comparisons are unfair and can be “won” in different ways in both directions. If I didn’t have a love for America and Americans, I would not be here. Of course Canada is my homeland and will always have my first allegiance. I would expect the same of any nationality. Everywhere must have it’s pros and cons. Anyway, it’s the people who mostly make a place what it is.

Later Sunday, after joining the YMCA and adding that routine which is high on my list of goals, I joined a group to see a film, for which I had to drive well into the suburbs. This is a very suburban city and I am finding my car to be essential. They were a wonderfully friendly group and afterwards most of us continued with dinner. I emailed one of the group afterwards, basically a gesture of friendship, now I think he probably found it strange but that is just me interpreting his non-response. He’s probably just busy and I should not second-guess. The thing is, if I don’t reach out and try to make friends, I won’t make friends. It takes effort, putting oneself on the line and getting out to meet people. If I am successful in making some friendships I won’t write about them specifically, except to mention activities and that I did make a friend(s).

Monday was engaged with parking issues, writing, working-out, and wandering the neighbourhood enjoying 16C sunshine. Later I attended a “dinner with singles” event, again a thirty minute drive into the burbs. It was a nice group, but the restaurant choice was terrible for meeting people. One of those chains trying to mimic urban after-work chic but in my opinion failing. The sushi was suburban with lots of cream cheese and avocado options and muted flavours. “What kind of wine is the house red?” “It’s red. We have white and red.” “Yes, but what type is it?” The waiter looks at me confused and says again, “red”. He knows there are more than two kinds of wine in the world, they serve other kinds by the bottle. That the house red should be a particular variety or bouquet of varieties should not confound him. Surely it must be something. I didn’t actually care about the food or the drink. I was sitting with friendly locals, we all chose to meet for dinner together for the purpose of meeting more than for the actual food, but the venue was far too noisy for regular conversation. I strained to hear across the small tables, and I strained my voice trying to be heard. I was able to chat a bit with the friendly woman beside me and she gave me her card. She could become a friend. I emailed her so we’ll see.

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I need practice making friendships. I’m never sure how much to share, how much is too much, when first meeting people especially. I can’t always tell if someone will be a good friend or a detrimental person to know when we meet. Might I enjoy spending some time with this person, or will I find them draining after a very short time and regret having given them my private number. The British yoga instructor I made instant-friends with in Manhattan only a few weeks ago proved a very suitable friend who I will hope to know for a long time. As did my former NYC landlord. Sometimes people click, sometimes they don’t. Sometimes I’m am too forward in offering friendship and people shy away before we can know if we’d make good friends or not. Or they misinterpret my offer of friendship and it’s just awkward. As I said, I need practice. I know the reason for this, it has to do with my developmental phases as a child and into my teens. For a number of years I had very few and often no friends at all outside of groups. I am an introvert and need alone time, but I am also outgoing so this is not apparent. Growing-up, in my head I was always an outsider. Even when perhaps no one else saw me that way. Even before things went wrong. I was because I thought I was.

In Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers” he mentions how most comedians tend to be outsiders. How they gain a unique perspective looking at the groups around them because of their removed position. They are able to step-back and see things that others don’t. Or they don’t even need to step-back, that is already their viewpoint. Funny, I had assumed that Gladwell was a Jewish native New Yorker, and only when I was at a reading he gave in Brooklyn this December did I find out that he is actually a Protestant Canadian from Ontario. Part Jamaican background and born in England until moving to Canada at age six, he would have been somewhat an outsider in small-town Ontario and also in NYC himself. He was being interviewed by the editor of the New York Times, who he actually grew-up with. Another Canadian from Ontario. Being an outsider has some very specific advantages. (As well as disadvantages.) This lends itself to writing too, not just comedy, seeing and experiencing things differently than most provides a unique perspective. In some ways I will probably always be an outsider, I was never destined to lead a “normal” life. Square peg not trying to fit a round hole. I think that is why I feel so at-home abroad where it is more congruent to be an outsider. I am happy being an outsider, but not socially. Not anymore.

No longer being an outsider socially was a goal I decided to conquer this Autumn when I joined a men’s discussion group in Toronto. It is a fantastic group where I am able to share openly, set goals for myself, and hold myself accountable in a very supportive environment. My focus also moved to having more meaningful personal connections in my life. I had been isolating myself. I have been feeling the fear and doing it anyway on a variety of personal issues that I have allowed to stop me from living my life more fully. It was my new habit of pushing through fear that saw me trying stand-up in front of a New York audience in December. Three times. It was a natural extension of pushing-through that barrier of fear that had been stopping me from more regular activities that don’t cause most people any stress at all, like answering the phone. (Anxiety issues became an offshoot of my ADHD meds in connection to things that happened in my life, and the habit of having anxiety lingered after I weaned-off them. I then had a lot to conquer.)

If I don’t make a friend or a few friends in Richmond then I may see my time here as a failure. But I shouldn’t. All I can do is try, and I know that if I tried then I was successful. I can’t regret trying, I can only regret not trying. But it’s hard to accept that really. I know myself to be a kind and honest person, an interesting and unique guy and the other person should be fortunate to have me as a friend. But when you come to somewhere alone with a goal of connecting with locals, it is hard not to see the accomplishment of that goal as success or failure. I try to choose appropriate possible friends and they can accept or reject my offer of friendship. How they see me and how they behave towards me actually has little to do with me and is entirely about them, but it is still personal. They are still reacting to me, even though it is based on their own ideas how they interpret me. I know that if I leave Richmond on Feb 8th without having made a lasting personal connection, I will wonder where I went wrong. But it won’t go wrong. One of these times I’ll offer friendship to the right person and they will invite me into their personal life and maybe even introduce me to their friends and I will make some meaningful personal connections. It’s fun meeting socially with groups, but it is more meaningful meeting with people who have become friends. Not just friends in the group, but friends outside of the group. Already I have met lots of really friendly people here in Richmond, so it’s just a matter of time.

I guess this is a bit of a personal social experiment although I didn’t see it that way until just now. For the moment, I’m having a great time organising to be social every evening and spending quiet days reading, writing, wandering, and exercising. At the library, the gym, at home, and at coffee shops. Balanced days. Getting things done that are important to me while honouring my nature of needing quiet time.

I just found a list of goals in one of my notebooks that was from about 6 months ago. Until very recently, I was not Mr.Social. At all. One of my goals was to push myself to meet with a friend every week. As I mentioned I had been suffering anxiety and as a result of this I rarely called friends anymore, I rarely reached out. To meet with one friend a week was one more than I was usually meeting. Incredible. I am moving forward.

Here is a crazy goal, and I will not let myself feel defeated if I don’t accomplish it. Make enough local friends to actually host a small gathering before I leave. Wouldn’t that be something.

Stay tuned!

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Some local artwork, right out back.

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I am going to enjoy taking photos of the graffiti art in Richmond. They’ve done a great job brightening-up areas.

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Stay tuned for pics highlighting Richmond’s more picturesque areas. These are just a few directly around me. Cheers!

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